Island in the sun: Where to live large on Boracay
Snow isn't the only white powder you can find between your toes in winter.
Nor is a fireplace your most romantic source of heat.
It's a challenge choosing between accommodation options on Boracay, where every resort does its best to minimize the distance between the pristine white beach, shimmering water and your room.
That's why we've done the grunt work for you.
Although Boracay’s main draw card is the five-kilometer-long White Beach, which has no shortage of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops, Boracay visitors can find tranquility in less developed corners.
From a resort where chefs dance to "Gangnam Style" to others with super-fresh seafood, these Boracay resorts play to the island’s strengths.
Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa
Shangri-La's Boracay Resort and Spa offers a secluded and exclusive luxury experience.
Upon arrival by air on Boracay’s neighboring island of Caticlan, guests are whisked to Shangri-La’s fragrant and air-conditioned lounge at the port.
From here it’s around 20 minutes by private boat to the resort’s own jetty on the edge of an eco-park.
The resort is set on a 12-hectare tropical garden above a 250-meter-long beach on the north-eastern corner of the island.
With 219 rooms, suites and villas, four restaurants, two bars, spa, huge pool, shopping arcade and every other amenity one would expect from a five-star hotel, there's little reason to leave the grounds.
Rooms feature eco-friendly touches such as large re-fillable glass bottles of spring water -- a homey touch that cuts down on plastic waste -- and air conditioners that shut off automatically when balcony doors are opened.
Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa, Barangay Yapak, Aklan Province 5608 Philippines; +63 36 288 4988
Discovery Shores Boracay
This five-star resort is Shangri-La’s most obvious competitor, although it has an entirely different look and feel -- more Miami chic than hidden oasis.
With 87 suites -- some have balcony Jacuzzis -- Discovery Shores Boracay makes the most of its beach frontage at Station One, on the quieter end of White Beach.
As the sun dips toward the sea, a roaming troupe of butlers offer Evian water face sprays or choice of platitos (small plates of sweet and savory bites) as guests gather round the oval Sandbar or recline on beach lounge chairs on Discovery Shore’s immaculately groomed strip of powdery sand.
Its two restaurants, Sands and Indigo bring fresh local produce to the fore.
Both are located steps away from White Beach. Indigo serves seafood-focused meals directly on the beach by candlelight.
Discovery Shores Boracay, Station 1 Balabag, Aklan Province Philippines; +63 36 288 4500
Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel
Located in the thick of White Beach’s Station Two, the privately owned Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel has 52 rooms and suites.
Most rooms face an attractive central swimming pool with fountains and hanging vines.
The pick of the rooms is the 90-square-meter Ambassador Suite, with dark wood panels, a four-poster bed, leather lounges and an expansive balcony with a Jacuzzi and view over White Beach.
Although located on one of the liveliest sections of the island, rooms remain quiet after midnight thanks to double-glazed windows.
Breakfast is served at Don Vito restaurant, a popular beachfront eatery where the daily catch is displayed on ice and live music is performed each evening.
The resort’s Mandarin Spa overlooks the beach and offers a variety of massages and beauty treatments.
Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel, Beach Front, Station 2, Boracay Island, Philippines, Aklan Province Philippines; +63 36 288 4999
Boracay Regency Beach Resort and Spa
On White Beach Station Two, this 302-room resort is the flagship property of Henann Group, which has the largest presence on the island with two other resorts: Henann Lagoon Resort and Henann Garden Resort.
Boracay Regency Beach Resort and Spa is one of the island’s most successful resorts and, according to management, consistently operates at above 80% occupancy with many return guests.
Boracay Regency features a semi-private beach lounge area, pools, a small shopping mall, spa and seven restaurants.
The most popular of these is Seabreeze, which specializes in informal dining with an emphasis on steak and seafood.
Each evening guests and passersby crowd the foot path in front of Seabreeze to watch, photograph and video the restaurant’s dancing chefs.
Their gyrations to "Gangnam Style" are particularly appreciated by the resort’s core clientele from South Korea.
The property will be rebranded as Boracay Henann Regency in April 2015.
Boracay Regency Beach Resort & Spa, Station 2 Balabag, Aklan Province 2004 Philippines;
Asya Premier Suites
Located on the mostly undeveloped southern tip of Boracay, Asya Premier Suites Boracay is accessed via a winding road.
The five-year-old establishment is gaining a reputation as a romantic, chic and secluded wedding destination.
The boutique resort has 20 suites and four garden villas.
The design by Filipino architectural firm Locsin Group features numerous tropical touches, such as stained timber and traditional woven cane furniture and artwork.
The centerpiece of the symmetrical landscaped gardens is a large circular pool, which is intended for natural air conditioning more than for swimming; its shallow waters do a great job of absorbing heat.
Down the stairs from the pool, the resort’s Palay serves dishes in modern Filipino style with attention to locally sourced ingredients.
Asya Premier Suites, Sitio Cagban Barangay Manoc-Manoc, Aklan Province 5608 Philippines; +63 36 288 1790